4.1 Fire and ecological succession
Early successional communities establish themselves relatively quickly after a fire (rapid colonisers) while late successional communities establish themselves much later (Figure 21).
Although fires open up gaps for early successional communities, community composition – the number and diversity of species present – is profoundly affected by the fire regime, and in particular its frequency and/or intensity.
For example, if fires are frequent the community will be dominated by early-succession, opportunistic, fast-colonising, resistant species because species characterising later successional stages will not be able to become established before the next fire.
What kind of community would be expected if fires are rare?
The community tends to be dominated by a few highly competitive, late-succession species. These species outcompete earlier-colonising species and can become established before the next fire.